Bernard took his hat from the old mahogany rack. “I’ve nothing to ride,” he replied irritably, “and I don’t choose to walk—that’s what I mean.”
But his answer only exasperated his hovering parent.
“Damme, sir, do you want to make me lose my temper?” he demanded. “Isn’t the stable full of horses? Where’s the gray mare, I’d like to know, sir?”
“Eugie!” called Bernard angrily, “come here.” And as the girl appeared he made a break from the house. He possessed an abiding faith in the endurance of Eugenia’s clannish soul that was proof against even the suggestion that it might succumb. His father was unquestionably trying, but Eugie was unquestionably strong, and she loved her people with a passion which he felt to be romantically unsurpassable. Yes, Eugie was the hope of the family, after all.
As for the girl, she put her arm about the general and drew him to his chair. He was failing rapidly; this she saw and suffered at seeing. There were wrinkles crossing and recrossing his hanging cheeks, and swollen bluish pockets beneath his eyes. When he moved he carried his great weight uneasily. During the day she hung over him with multiplied caresses; as he sat upon the porch in the afternoon she read to him from the Bible and Shakespeare, the only books his library contained.
“After God and Shakespeare, what was left for any man to write?” the general had once demanded of the judge.
Now he asked the question of Eugenia, and she smiled and was silent. Her eyes passed from the porch to the lawn and the walk and the immemorial gloom of the great cedars. Sunshine lay over all the warm, sleepy land, and sunshine lay across her white dress and across the senile droop of the general’s mouth.
“For He maketh sore, and bindeth up,” read the girl slowly. “He woundeth and His hands make whole.”
“He shall deliver thee in six troubles;—yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee.”
“In famine He shall redeem thee from death: and in war from the power of the sword.”
She stopped suddenly and looked up, for the general’s eyes were full of tears.
WHEN FIELDS LIE FALLOW
On an October afternoon Nicholas Burr was walking along the branch road that led to his father’s farm. He carried a well filled bag upon his shoulder, the musty surface of which betrayed that it contained freshly ground meal, but, despite the additional weight, his figure was unflinchingly erect. There was a splendid vigour in his thick-set frame and in the swinging strides of his hardy limbs. His face—the square-jawed, large-featured face of a philosopher or a farmer—possessed, with its uncompromising ugliness, a certain eccentric power. Rugged, gray, alert-eyed as it was, large-browed and overhung by his waving red hair—it was a face to attract or to repel—not to be ignored.